“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
-Benjamin Franklin

If you have ever been in sales, how many times have you driven into the parking lot of a potential customer, parked, and never left your car? How many days have you driven around aimlessly, sat in mall parking lots or in a coffee shop, or spent more time organizing your sales materials than actually selling? How many times have you opted to send an email or text message instead of picking up the phone and making personal contact with a potential client? How many times have you procrastinated on calling on a potential referral source for a day, week, or longer? If you have ever done any of the above, I understand. I have been there.

The reason for the above scenarios is lack of planning. As a sales professional, I learned years ago that in the alphabet of success, P is for Planning; if I have a good, solid plan, I am more likely to be successful. I’ve seen many sales people jump into sales without a plan and wonder why they felt the way they did when it came down to actually performing their jobs.

Whether you have been in sales for years or just starting in the profession, planning plays a vital role in your success and motivation. Planning involves the identification of potential customers and referral sources, and gathering information through research and networking that will help you confidently connect with them. Ask yourself, “what person or organization could benefit from my product or service?” I recommend brainstorming potential referral sources and networking with people you already know for leads, going through your company database, calling on existing referral sources if that luxury exists, and social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Write the names of those people and companies down. Then get their contact information. With the internet, you literally have a ton of helpful information at your fingertips. Ask yourself questions such as, “How am I going to make initial contact with this person?”, “Is this person in a position to make decisions on the company’s behalf?”, “What do I want to accomplish from the first contact?”, “What are the reasons this person will want to meet with me?”

A great way to get started is to categorize the names you have come up with. Many sales professionals use, hot/warm/cold, ABC, inner/middle/outer, top/middle/lower, whichever you prefer. The main point is to identify which category the names on your list fit into in order to determine the scope of contact with them. This will help you plan your days, weeks, and months. You will want to spend more time with your strongest targets. I recommend weekly, or at least bi-weekly contact with the strongest, monthly with those who are not quite the strongest yet, but have potential, and bi-monthly to quarterly on the weakest targets depending on your product, service, and geographical area.  Once you have done all of this, you are ready to make contact.

We have covered the P for Planning in our Navamaze model here. Please see my next blog covering the L for Linking and Meeting Objectives – Research, goal planning, and setting appointments.

For information on Navamaze Sales Coaching, email us at info@navamaze.com or call 877.255.0744.